Last night the deacon’s homily emphasized the reciprocal nature of forgiveness: we forgive so that we ourselves may be forgiven.
Without question, this is a beautiful sentiment. But we typically only understand it in one direction: if I forgive others, I will be forgiven by the Lord, my god.
Again, lovely, and probably the hardest thing for most people; it’s incredibly easy to hold a grudge, to hang on to hate, to continue to judge long past the point of what ought to be reconciliation.But the proposition has another side, one less explored, because less common, though, important to me: we must be willing to accept forgiveness in order to be forgiven.
This is true of God (and for the scrupulous among us, this can be hard), but I mean it equally of our fellow human beings. We must be willing to accept their forgiveness of us for our misdeeds, not allowing guilt to reign over our lives.
Further, we often want forgiveness too quickly; we forget that forgiveness can require patience. If we wrong a friend or loved one, they may not be ready to forgive us immediately. We might ingratiate ourselves with them, acting (and even internally being) as kind as humanly imaginable, doing everything in our power to win their forgiveness.
But this is not in our hands; it is, as with all things, in God’s. We are foolish to think anything but a contrite heart and pious patience can manifest forgiveness in the world. We wait not on our own time, but on God’s.
How deep can be the suffering…